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OnStar Reverses ToS Changes 90

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the or-will-they dept.
First time accepted submitter BlackWind writes "It seems that even Government Motors is smart enough to figure out when they've gone too far. GM announced that the OnStar service will revert to their previous Terms of Service in the wake of the firestorm of criticism that their plan to sell GPS data created."
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OnStar Reverses ToS Changes

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  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @04:12PM (#37531084) Journal

    I'd bet GM will be making an extra large contribution to Schumer's campaign this year. If Schumer was really serious about doing anything but shaking down GM, he would have introduced legislation prohibiting vehicle tracking. But that's not going to happen obviously.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'd bet GM will be making an extra large contribution to Schumer's campaign this year. If Schumer was really serious about doing anything but shaking down GM, he would have introduced legislation prohibiting vehicle tracking. But that's not going to happen obviously.

      Like that would get through with the way Republicans are right now. Rand Paul would hold it up arguing that the government is denying corporate freedoms by not allowing OnStar to forcefully ID chip every person that ever rides in a car with OnStar in it.

      • Why slam republicans for hypothetically stopping something the democrats would never start?

        Analyze the situation. The problem is not the other political party, it's a government that puts itself and its campaign sponsors above its citizens.

        • by Pope (17780)

          Blame an electoral system that has candidates out campaigning and having to raise money a year + out from the actual election date. Running a campaign that long takes boatloads of money.

          • It's not about the length of the campaign, it's about the intelligence of the electorate. Anybody influenced by a tv commercial, a yard sign, a bumper sticker, or a hairdo is intellectually unqualified to vote.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          The problem is not the other political party, it's a government that puts itself and its campaign sponsors above its citizens.

          Why do you blame the government, which at least in the U.S. is made up of us, instead of those "sponsors" that have spent billions to influence it to our detriment?

          When there is an attack on institutions, why would you blame the institution? Our government has been a victim of an all-out campaign to corrupt and control it by a group of abstract corporate entities (only some of them

          • by Shotgun (30919)

            If that pump was expected to handle the pollution. Yes.

            Did someone remove greed from the human psyche yesterday, and Slashdot simply refused to post a story about it? I think not. Therefore, a functioning government should be able to withstand assaults from both greedy corporate directors, entitlement recipients and labor unions.

            It's not a matter of someone poisoning the water. The water has been poisoned since Cain hit able over the head with a rock (substitute analogy from your favorite genesis story)

            • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

              a functioning government should be able to withstand assaults from both greedy corporate directors, entitlement recipients and labor unions.

              I think the government can handle all those. What it is having trouble with is a corrupted rogue majority in the Supreme Court who have been co-opted by a level of greed and power that the founders did not anticipate.

              With Citizens United, we entered a boundary condition where the influence of corporate power will accelerate faster than the institutions of government ca

          • > Why do you blame the government, ...
            > instead of those "sponsors"
            That would be like blaming wolves for being wolves. do what you will with them, but they'll still be wolves.

            > When there is an attack on institutions, why would
            > you blame the institution?
            Because the institution swore to defend us and itself, and then set a table with raw pork, invited the wolves inside, and dropped their pants and mated.

            This government is no longer of the people, and won't be until we re-assert ourselves and st

            • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

              This government is no longer of the people, and won't be until we re-assert ourselves and stop being sheep.

              Absolutely. Why would anyone expect the government to care when people don't.

              I disagree though, about the government no longer being "of the people". I think we're getting a perfect reflection of ourselves.

              What will never be a reflection of ourselves, though, is the 21st century corporation. It is a machine, a golem. Nothing human or humanly frail about it. A hungry automaton. Capable of devouri

      • Schumer doesn't need campaign funds. He's elected for life in a district of drones who feel that just by virtue of being from where you are from, you vote for Schumer.

    • Government Motors has friends in high places, especially these days. There are no real rules that apply to a corporation that large and that deeply in bed with the ruling party, there are only suggestions, favors to be exchanged, horses to be traded.

      Look at General Motors getting bailed out, while Ford didn't, and then they get the White House to pressure Ford not to point this fact out in advertising.

      Look at the exceptionally well-connected General Electric, not only not paying any taxes but getting paid b

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      I'd bet GM will be making an extra large contribution to Schumer's campaign this year. If Schumer was really serious about doing anything but shaking down GM, he would have introduced legislation prohibiting vehicle tracking. But that's not going to happen obviously.

      Nice to see the thinking at GM has survived since the 1980's when "If it sounds like a stupid idea, let's do it" seemed to be the company motto. I don't think there's a need for legislation as present laws, it present laws are properly observed and enforced.

    • by sjames (1099)

      If GM didn't back off and Schumer suddenly went silent, you might have a point, but that's not what happened.

  • Removing it from the ToS does not necessarily means they won't sell the data.
    • I remember in the past, there was a story (on slashdot, I think) about how General Motors wasn't able to comply with secret tracking requests because the hardware wasn't set up to track people without revealing the situation to the driver. The concern to me is, while they may not be talking about selling your gps data anymore, the ability to gather the data is still there even if the service is inactive, and with no notification.
      • I remember a story from a while back where the FBI was able to use Onstar to listen to conversations going on in a car without the occupants knowing about it. The only problem arose if someone in the car attempted to use Onstar while this was happening (I don't remember what happened when they did that, only that it raised problems for listening without the people in the car knowing about it).
  • Dear OnStar (and anybody AT&T else thinking GOOGLE about doing FACEBOOK something similar):

    Did you really think we wouldn't notice?

    Love,
    The People Who Are Watching Your Smug Privacy-Raping Asses

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      Dear The People Who Are Watching Your Smug Privacy-Raping Asses,

      Do you really think we care if you notice?

      We'll introduce this again in a year or two and you'll notice again but there will be half as many complaints and we'll withdraw it. The time after that there will be even less complaints we will push it through.

      Love,
      Onstar.

      P.S. Do you remember when you didn't need to get a pat down to board a plane? When you didn't have to give the government advance notice of your international travel plans? When corp

      • by zoloto (586738)
        yes i remember those days and so does my brother. when being able to carry his sidearm on an airplane by simply being a cop was normal and not something people worried about.
      • by Bucky24 (1943328)
        Whoa, since when do we have to give advance notice of international travel plans? I hadn't heard of this. Do you have an article or something to prove that?
        • by nedlohs (1335013)

          http://www.tsa.gov/what_we_do/layers/secureflight/ [tsa.gov]

          Only when flying (and I guess lots of Americans travel over land not being an island, unlike where I'm from), Actually I see no mention of being restricted to international, maybe the US airlines just do it for you under the covers while when I've flown from the US on a non-US airline I had to that out after buying the ticket.

    • Average Joes didn't notice. A bunch of geeks and one politician noticed. We got lucky, that's all.

  • by JohnnyComeLately (725958) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @04:19PM (#37531204) Homepage Journal
    Here is what I was about to post to the original article here....

    Initially, I read the TOS very quickly, and didn't notice the rewrite specifics. Due to reading the actual TOS a second time, I called all the way from Europe to cancel the service on my car that sits idle (pardon the pun) in Southern California. When I get back, I plan to rip the RF device out of the car.
    Insurance can't be trusted, and I know they'll be buying the data. Geo spatial analysis will make it insanely easy to un-anonimize the data, and as we've seen very recently, when a company is bought or sold, the new owners like to re-define the rules of engagement. Right now, insurance asks for all your medical data during a claim, what's to stop them from pooling, analyzing, and/or asking for this data pertaining to your driving? Nothing.
    The interesting thing is the On-Star support person said three times, "The information is only released with your consent." I replied all three times, "That's what your old TOS said. With all due respect, I appreciate your efforts, however I have an exceptionally firm grasp of the English language, and it very specifically states the data can be sold at GM's discretion OR with my consent. Please cancel."

    Hmmm...oh well... It's sorta funny they actually corrected course. Netflix obviously didn't learn this lesson or execute a course correction nearly as well.

    • I bought a brand new Pontiac G8 GT a couple years back. Not only did I leave the dealer lot without activating OnStar (much to the dismay of the salesman), I removed the module from the car as soon as I got home. Very easy to do, simply unplugged the antenna and electrical harnesses, and unclipped it from the rear deck. No tools needed, no side effects, and the only "feature" I lost was bluetooth integration (which I don't use) and obviously the OnStar "features" which I didn't want. When I traded the c
      • by Sez Zero (586611)
        It was that easy on my Tahoe. I plan to replace the OnStar box with a BlueSTAR box; a plug-and-play unit that provides the bluetooth and hands-free capabilities.
  • "For the life of the car" lack of privacy means I would never buy a car with OnStar in my life.
    • Eh. I'm not going to let that keep me from owning a car that I want. What I DID do is disconnect the coax to the satellite and cell antenna. Now it just has a red "I can't talk to the mothership" telltale in the rearview mirror frame.

      • by sjames (1099)

        If you buy new, be sure to not only have the entire cost of the onstar system itemized and then removed from the total, but also an additional amount for the trouble you'll have to go through to make sure it's disconnected and really unable to talk to the mother ship. You should probably take a bit more off due to the "free" first few month's service since they must have tacked that cost on somewhere.

  • Come on. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by American AC in Paris (230456) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @04:25PM (#37531304) Homepage
    You know, you've got a perfectly good summary going on an important issue, and you go and make yourself look like a child by calling General Motors "Government Motors". Why? Do you honestly think it's clever, or particularly effective at getting your point across?
    • by Monkey-Man2000 (603495) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @04:53PM (#37531732)
      I agree, only Drudge and rightwingers call GM Government Motors. I suppose at least they're advertising their right-wing bias with a metaphorical blink tag. Therefore, we can assume the story is a troll or otherwise partisan like RedState, DailyKos, etc... I suspect this is the kind of shit that pushed CmdrTaco to leave /. because it's become much more conspicuous recently and particularly since he left ...
      • by halivar (535827)

        Therefore, we can assume the story is a troll

        If RedState or DKos said drinking rubbing alcohol was bad, would you immediately run to the medicine cabinet for a swig?

    • by wevets (939468)
      Good point. The whole country ought to be real glad the government got involved in saving GM rather than letting it go into liquidation or be bought by the Chinese. In addition to saving a whole lot of jobs, it also helped hold an important industrial base in American hands. And on top of that, the taxpayers made money on the deal as GM recovers and pays off what the taxpayers chipped in to safe this company.
      • by sithkhan (536425)
        You may be correct on the Chinese fire sale. However, your assertion that the taxpayers of the United States are going to see all that money recouped is patently false at this time. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703916004576271382418887092.html [wsj.com] http://www.autoblog.com/2011/04/21/report-fed-mulling-summer-sale-of-gm-stock-would-take-big-loss/ [autoblog.com] The stock owned by the government needed to be sold at $50/share to break even. But what's 11 billion dollars when you want to raise government sp
      • by lgw (121541)

        Nothing good can come from propping up failed companies. So much of what is wrong with capitalism in America comes just from that. Capitalism needs failures, and executives who drive companies into the ground need to fail - golden parachute or not, they won't be given the chance to destroy another company if the first one fails hard enough.

        Similarly, investors in terrible companies need to lose all their money to the people shorting those companies, so that future inventments will be made by smarter peopl

        • by wevets (939468)
          Well, you may be right in an ideologically pure world, but that world doesn't actually exist, and you should perhaps think about what is required by the real world. (Further, government has a legitimate role in supporting the economy when the failures that you say Capitalism needs overcome Capitalism's ability to recover. Read up on the Great Depression, and remember that Capitalism's self recovery mechanisms were too feeble to get us out of the Depression. What got us out was the grand daddy of all gover
    • You know, you've got a perfectly good summary going on an important issue, and you go and make yourself look like a child by calling General Motors "Government Motors". Why?

      Because GM is now owned by the government and management decisions are made in Washington. Even if the government has sold its stock in GM, the way the "bailout" was executed, it is obvious that the conditions of ownership are at the discretion of the President.

      • by Bucky24 (1943328)
        Heh does that mean that the USA should be the United States of China? After all they bailed us out....
  • Reading the title of this one, and not knowing who or what OnStar are, I completely thought this was about The Original Series.

    Bummer. Dude. Seriously? No Shatner?

    • It's their service that automatically calls for help in the event of an automobile accident.
      • by Bucky24 (1943328)
        And then you hear a strange disembodied voice from your onstar unit (assuming it wasn't damaged) asking you if you were ok and they detected the airbags went off. I wonder what they would do if you flatly denied anything was wrong.
  • by sl3xd (111641) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @04:38PM (#37531486) Journal

    From what I read in TFA, they only reverted the part where they continue to track you after you've canceled I saw nothing about them changing their minds about selling your data.

  • Just because the ToS changed doesn't mean they're still not going to collect and sell all that data. Now it's just not in the ToS and they'll be a little quieter about who it goes to.

  • or is this just another case of pushing the limits and seeing how much they can get away with? Also i would like to know if someone or some people are going to continue to monitor to see if they actually are implementing back to the old ToS or are just reverting back to it on paper only yet still using peoples data anyway.
  • great, there is no more need to use a GPS jammer [jammer-store.com]
  • If the car is parked at home almost every night.
    • by Bucky24 (1943328)
      Heh maybe THAT'S why my neighbor is so pissed at me parking my car in front of his house....
  • The backlash and negative PR actually had an effect.

  • OnStar is lame, sorry but it is. They've tried to stay relevant by adding "services" which are overpriced and overrated. Sure, they can tie into your OBDII system and let you know if you have a problem, but you also have a check engine light too which for most of us indicates that there's something that needs to be done.

    I pulled my OnStar box out and replaced it with another device that now allows me to use my Bluetooth integrated devices in my car so this ToS change didn't bother me, but what does bother

  • When the initial term is up, I would not mind continuous monitoring. If the vehicle was stolen, could they locate it. At that point I would pay a finders fee.

  • If I ever get a car that has OnStar in it, the cables are getting clipped and equipment removed.

    These devices (on most cars) have the ability to receive disable signals from the service, in the unfortunate case of being involved in a police chase (LOL). Seriously, no thanks. Wires clipped, in the trash. I'll paint the button a different color.

  • "Onstar changes course" or "Onstar reverses course of TOS changes"

You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350

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